Nianjin Liu, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Indiana University

"Associating Multivariate Quantitative Phenotypes with Genetic Variants in Family Samples."

The recent development of sequencing technology allows identification of association between the whole spectrum of genetic variants and complex diseases. Over the past few years, a number of association tests for rare variants have been developed. Jointly testing for association between genetic variants and multiple correlated phenotypes may increase the power to detect causal genes in family-based studies, but familial correlation needs to be appropriately handled to avoid an inflated type I error rate. Here we propose a novel approach for multivariate family data using kernel machine regression (denoted as MF-KM) that is based on a linear mixed-model framework and can be applied to a large range of studies with different types of traits. In our simulation studies, the usual kernel machine test has inflated type I error rates when applied directly to familial data, while our proposed MF-KM method preserves the expected type I error rates. Moreover, the MF-KM method has increased power compared to methods that either analyze each phenotype separately while considering family structure or use only unrelated founders from the families. Finally, we illustrate our proposed methodology by analyzing whole-genome genotyping data from a lung function study.

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